Vols Use Second Half Surge to Beat Tennessee Tech
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee used its trademark defense and impressive 3-point shooting to beat a pesky Tennessee State squad, 67-46, in a Saturday night tilt at Thompson-Boling Arena. The Vols (7-4 overall) won their third game in a row and remained perfect at home under Donnie Tyndall, moving to 6-0 this season. The Vols have won nine home games in a row dating to last year.
Tennessee State fell to 2-11 overall, dropping their 10th game in a row.
The Tigers stayed close throughout thanks to excellent 3-point shooting led by Marcus Roper (16 points) as they were 11-of-23 from behind the arc on Saturday. Roper connected on four 3-pointers.
Junior Kevin Punter led the Vols with 18 points as he made all four of his 3-point field goal attempts.
Vols’ senior Josh Richardson had an all-around game with 16 points, while handing out a career-high eight assists, setting a new standard for the second game in a row. Richardson added six rebounds and two steals.
Sophomore Robert Hubbs III tallied a season-high 11 points, making three 3-pointers. He also added career-highs for rebounds (five) and assists (three).
The Vols used the 3-point field goal to their advantage on offense as well, making a season-best 13-of-29 from trifecta land.
The Vols rallied from a 38-37 deficit with 14 minutes left in the game, keyed by Hubbs’ sharp-shooting from beyond the arc. Hubbs knocked down a triple to put the Vols ahead 42-38 with 13:24 left in the game.
Tennessee pulled away midway through the second half. A 13-0 run sparked by seven points from Punter put the Vols up 55-40 with seven minutes left. The Vols held Tennessee State scoreless for more than six minutes before Jay Harris (15 points) hit a 3-pointer which ended the drought with 6:41 left in the game.
All said and done, the Vols outscored Tennessee State 30-8 over the final 14 minutes of the game.
The Vols held a 38-27 advantage on the glass and converted 25 points off 16 TSU turnovers. The Tigers did not have a point off a Vols’ turnover.
The Vols held a 29-26 halftime lead after the Tigers closed the first half on an 8-0 run. Tennessee led by as many as 14 points (27-13) on Baulkman’s 3-pointer with five minutes remaining. The Vols connected on five 3-pointers in the first half. TSU made 6-of-11 on 3-pointers, which kept them within striking distance.
Tennessee is 5-0 all-time against Tennessee State and 55-2 against foes from the Ohio Valley Conference. The Vols are also 41-13 against in-state foes since the 2005-06 season.
The Vols finish their four-game holiday Ho-Ho-Homestand on New Year’s Eve Day night as East Tennessee State comes to Knoxville. That game airs on the SEC Network and Vol Network with a tip at 1 p.m. The Vols open the SEC schedule on Jan. 7 at Mississippi State.